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Creation vs. Maintenance

July 7, 2014

Theatre in itself is ephemeral, it’s there and then it’s gone. For the audience, seeing a show once, enjoying it, and then going home allows them a glimpse into the world that we as artists have created. They can see a show and connect with it on a personal level, but after the night that they saw the show, all they have is a memory, and hopefully we left an impression on the audience. On the other side of the stage, the cast and crew have been doing the same show day after day, and night after night. It’s the same thing all the time, save for a few moments of improvisation. The trouble here is maintaining the excellence of what you rehearsed, rather than creating something new to keep the show fresh. Creation is more exciting than maintenance, but maintenance is harder than creation.

I’m sure it’s happened to many actors and technicians, when you run the same show everyday (sometimes several times a day) it can get a little bit boring. I know I’m a little bit guilty of spacing out during the same scene change that I have gone over a hundred times, but that doesn’t mean the show is any less amazing of a performance, that just means that we have mastered the operation of said scene change enough to where we can do it without thinking about it.

While mastering a scene change is always a good thing, problems occur when people take in to their own hands to make the same routine a little bit more interesting. Sometimes this can happen in a harmless way, such as taking something off stage a different way. Other times, it can be a little more destructive, such as when you take over someone else’s duty to make things seem new. Luckily for the tech crew, small changes they do are very seldom noticed. For performers, changing the choreography after a hundred shows can be a lot more damaging than you think. The audience may not notice that anything is different, after all, this is the first time they are seeing your work of art, but it can throw off your fellow performers, and could even mess up the tech crew.

Maintaining the level of excellence and the integrity of the show you have put together can be a little boring at times, and sometimes the show can seem to drag on forever, but showing the audience the show that the director had in mind is always worth it, and the audience leaving knowing that they saw the same amazing show they read about in reviews is a lot more worth it than jeopardizing a performance.

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